Deadline, Chapters 20 and 21

Finally, some good news comes in chapter 20. Tompkins receives a letter from Lahksa telling that a consultant was going to visit him and that everything was going to be okay.

“And don’t worry about you, either. I’ll take care of everything as soon as I get back.”

It’s still a mystery what she means by this, but I can assume she has a plan in order for the projects to finish in time or for the deadline to be moved.

Tompkins meets with the consultant right away. The consultant is named Harry Winnipeg and he has written many books, so many that he has forgotten about many of them. Harry can tell right away that Tompkins has problems and that those problems are related to people. Harry decides to deal with the angry manager and ends up demoting him. Harry also mentions that PMill-A is already dead and there’s no reason to continue working on it. However, Tompkins needed to keep it alive because of politics. This is actually called a zombie project and Harry says that at least 10% projects fall in this category. I think it would be weird working on one of those, you basically have no chance of completing it.

Harry also says that meetings shouldn’t have too many people in them. Most likely than not, the whole meeting won’t be necessary for everyone to hear. He suggests dividing the meetings into smaller ones and creating an agenda with all the meetings and what they are about so you only go if you have to. He also mentioned the need for a ceremony with 5 steps. With the ceremony you choose someone and just make him leave, this someone has to be the person that will make the best use of that time.

Harry talks again with Tompkins about the angry manager. The manager actually wanted to leave his position. It turns out that the manager was in fear, however, fear is an unacceptable feeling inside the workplace, so he replaced it with anger. It’s good to know this so when you see someone angry you know that they are afraid. This manager will be a configuration manager. This is a term that I hadn’t heard of before. Configuration management means ensuring that all software and hardware assets are tracked in a project as well as changes to them.

Finally, everything that I was waiting for happened. Lahksa came back, and not only that, but Belok is out of the picture. Lahksa just gave Belok herpes through his drink. I’m kind of glad that he is gone for now, but I feel that Lahksa went a bit overboard. Tompkins finally has freedom to do whatever he wants. HE plans on raiding the A teams and giving those people to the B and C teams. He felt like Patton. He was just observing the battle, all his work was already done beforehand. However, if something went wrong he had to interfere.

Even with Belok gone, Tompkins still wanted to finish the projects before the deadline that Belok had set up. He suggested cutting out code inspection. The projects were coming along pretty well, so code inspections generally didn’t detect anything wrong with the code. That precisely the reason why Tompkins decided to remove them, if they weren’t doing anything, why have them? Since they did design so well, most of the bugs weren’t even there in the first place. Cutting inspection would save lots of man hours and will make the projects finish sooner. The only bad thing was that since Tompkins wasn’t doing that much anymore, he felt like he wasn’t learning as much as before. He concluded that sometimes you just have to hope for a miracle, but don’t rely on that.

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